Analysis Of The Artistic Style Of Paul Cézanne

Paul Cézanne was a french painter during the post-impressionism period that rejected traditional impressionism. Disagreeing with the impressionist belief that painting was a reflection of visual perception, Cézanne was motivated to change the perspective of painting. For him painting was a “means of expressing sensation” because it resulted from a “personal way of seeing” as well as giving him this experience. He changed the way we view familiar objects. He believed that ‘artists should make pictures that teach us something.’ He wanted his scenes to be seen from different points of view by straying from traditional art in the aspect of his multiple viewpoints.

Cézanne was drawn to still life paintings because of the fact that it was so neglected. It gave him the opportunity to create his own meanings, aside from tradition. In Cézannes Basket of Apples, he distorted the perspective of what one would think it “should look like.” Within a Basket of Apples, Cézanne created each object in a way to be examined by several angles. He described this as a “harmony parallel to nature.” The distortions and objects off-balance throughout the painting such as the fruit seeming to roll off the steep table, are not mistakes, but done purposely to change the direction of his painting.

Cézanne took after Manet in many ways. One being the way the way they challenged three dimensional perspective. In both a Basket of Apples and Impression, Sunrise, both artists employ broken brushwork to emphasize shapes and shadows. Monet’s Impression, Sunrise differs from a Basket of Apples in the aspect of dark and light colors but both reflect their own individual perceptions of nature. As they both depict three dimensional objects, neither of them have an obvious vanishing point along the horizon.

Cézanne ignored the classical laws of perspective. Within a Basket of Apples, he created each object as its own individual within a general setting allowing Cézanne to create a relationship between the objects. In order to create scenes with a distorted perspective, he used subtle changes of color rather than a shadow or light. This challenged traditional use of one-point perspective in the ways that Cézanne created dimensions and expressed realism. A Basket of Apples rejects one-point perspective by not having a single vanishing point on the horizon line.

As stated previously, Cézanne wanted to complicate simple objects within his paintings to get his viewers thinking, rather than depicting reality. Through his art Cézanne investigated familiar three dimensional forms and broke them down to their most basic form. In a Basket of Apples, Cézanne uses abstraction to dismiss normative surface details. He began to simplify objects into abstract shapes while simultaneously depicting multiple vantage points within the same painting.

Cézanne wanted to complicate simple familiar objects by distorting their shape, color, composition and perspective. He incorporated different perspectives throughout the painting in order to emphasize the differences of viewpoints in an impressionistic painting. His variation of perspective and angles to depict objects was how Cézanne created the bridge between impressionism and cubism. Picasso’s early cubism was influenced by the way Cézanne reconstructed the nature of simple objects through underlying shapes and clear brush strokes. Picasso continued to take after and reinterpret Cézanne’s works for the next few decades of his evolution. 

09 March 2021
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